The best chili around New Jersey: Big Joe takes you on a chili tour
I really enjoy chili. It’s my go-to starter and I taste test it if it’s on the menu at a new place I’m trying. While I like it thick and meaty, there is a couple of my favorite chili destinations in here that even though the chili is a little thin I chose because the flavor is just too good to ignore.
Most of us like chili in the fall and winter months, I like it year-round. I like it spicy but not hot enough so that it masks the true flavor of the chili. So with that said, these are a few of my favorite places to go here in New Jersey for chili in no particular ranking.
Arthur's Tavern – Morris Plains, NJ
Step into Arthur’s Tavern and you’re definitely taking a step into good times in the Wayback machine. The atmosphere is pretty cool with interesting knick-knacks hanging from the ceiling and checkered tablecloths set the mood for a great dining experience.
While Arthur’s is primarily known for their steaks, their chili is very good. Some have called it the best chili in New Jersey. It has a little bit of a kick and topped with shredded cheese and green onions and is the absolute compliment before your steak or lunch.
Served in small crock pots, the much-lauded chili is delicious and for me a great start to dinner, so much so I had to have two bowls. Well worth the trip.
Wahlburger’s - Atlantic City, NJ
While I’m not a big fan of chain restaurants, the chili at Wahlberger’s is very good. Served thick with a nice bite, you can add a little more kick to it and the chili is topped with shredded cheese and taco strips it’s a great starter but it will dig into your appetite. It’s worth the try.
Klee’s – Seaside Heights, NJ
Local Smoke – Sea Girt, NJ
This is chili the way I like it. As I stated above, I’m not a huge fan of chain restaurants but Local Smoke is another exception. Their Pitmaster Chili is thick and has both beef and sausage in the mix. True to the name, Local Smoke the chili has a smoky flavor that’s not too overwhelming. You get a wide variety of toppings and the chili compliments the good barbeque that they serve up.
This chili was so good that I almost scrapped the thought of barbeque ribs for another bowl of chili. Local Smoke is a good choice in Sea Girt.
Rutt’s Hut – Clifton, NJ
When talking about the best hot dogs in New Jersey Rutt’s Hut always comes up as a destination for their “rippers”, deep-fried hot dogs, some say the best in the state. They are good but so is the chili. Not to be overlooked, Rutt’s Hut serves a great chili both regular and my favorite, the all-meat.
They use their chili as a topper on their world-famous hot dogs but I like a bowl or two with a dog on the side. It’s flavorful and my only negative on the chili is that it doesn’t have enough kick for me but I understand why, because families are putting it on their hot dogs and additional spices won’t have that family appeal. Go to Rutt’s Hut it’s a Jersey institution.
Ocean Café – Long Branch, NJ
While I like thick chili, Ocean Café serves up a chicken chili that is not. The taste of this chili is very good, it has a great mixture of spices and a nice kick to it, the chicken makes you feel a little healthier than other chili offerings but you are still very aware that you’re eating some great chili. I eat a bowl with sour cream and shredded cheese, so much for the healthy aspect. Ocean Café is worth a try, check it out.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.